is Dave Noland's second album as a leader, a self-produced endeavor that follows the tenor saxophonist's 2007 recording for the Jazz Excursion label, Nomad
. With a mix of four original tunes and three standards, Ripple
showcases Noland's considerable talents as a composer, arranger, and improviser.
Originally from San Angelo, Texas, Noland has been active in a variety of musical contexts in the New York metro area pretty much since he arrived in 1999. Transferring from North Texas University, he finished up his undergrad work at William Paterson University before earning a master's in jazz performance in 2004 at New Jersey City University. Since then, he's performed with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra
, Vince Giordano
and the Nighthawks, and played with other jazz groups in clubs around New York. In addition, he's done some work in classical music from time to time, including performances with the New York Philharmonic and other orchestras, and he holds down the tenor sax chair in the New York Saxophone Quartet. But it's been his work on Broadway shows, tours, and cast albums, along with television studio work and teaching that mainly pays the bills and keeps him plenty busy.
, Noland brought together a quartet he led for a regular gig in the Washington Heights neighborhood in upper Manhattan: pianist Matt Kanelos
, bassist Ben Gallina
, and drummer Andy O'Neill
"X-on Supreme" is the album's dramatic opener, a bold and driving composition in 5/4 that features improvisations that are equally striking by both Noland and Kanelos. The title track, "Ripple," offers a contrasting mood; it's a slow-tempo, contemplative minor-key piece with a lot of chromatic movement. Noland and the quartet infuse both "Cruiser" and "O's Groove" with a Latin feel, the first tune featuring a light, swinging rhythm with an extended piano opening, and the second presenting a strong melody that mixes an angular, modern approach with a sprinkling of soul jazz. Of the standards, "Time After Time" and "How About You" both open and close with bouncy, straight-ahead swing, bookending some harmonically adventurous solos, and "Here's That Rainy Day" takes a somewhat similar approach as a ballad, nicely closing out the album.
Throughout, Noland shows traces of some clear influences: John Coltrane
and Wayne Shorter
certainly come to mind, as does Walt Weiskopf
, who heads the jazz program at New Jersey City University, where Noland also now teaches. But much more than evoking these other inspirations, Noland displays a distinctive and engaging voice as a jazz soloist and composer.